Mr. Tulkinghorn is Sir Leicester Dedlock’s lawyer. He holds a grudge against Sir Leicester’s wife, Lady Dedlock, whom he suspects is not truly of noble birth. Mr. Tulkinghorn specializes in working with wealthy clients, and he consequently is privy to the secrets of many rich and powerful people. A cruel, merciless individual, Mr. Tulkinghorn sadistically delights in having power over others; he loves to collect secrets, as this gives him social currency and power over the upper classes, who are his superiors and employers. Mr. Tulkinghorn despises the gentry, but he also despises members of the lower classes, such as Lady Dedlock, whom he views as a social climber because she married into wealth. He is associated with a rat and a crow throughout the novel, suggesting that he is an unpleasant and sinister man. He disguises his cruel motives under a veneer of respectability and discretion. Sir Leicester trusts Mr. Tulkinghorn completely and thus never suspects his cruelty to Lady Dedlock, whom he tries to blackmail when he discovers that she had an illegitimate child (Esther) before her marriage. Mr. Tulkinghorn is a bully and a coward underneath, however, and uses his connections in the legal system to protect himself. He is very afraid of George—a soldier who comes to him about an outstanding debt—and threatens Mademoiselle Hortense with prison before she has committed a crime. Despite his respectable façade, he is not a noble man and will work with clients who are deeply corrupt, like the debt collector Mr. Smallweed, if this gets Mr. Tulkinghorn his own way. He is extremely good at manipulating people and often persuades people to act for him so that he can evade responsibility for these actions. In spite of himself, Mr. Tulkinghorn admires Lady Dedlock because she meets his cool façade with an equally stoic one when he threatens to reveal her secret. At the end of the novel, Mademoiselle Hortense, who wishes to frame Lady Dedlock, murders Mr. Tulkinghorn.